Does Canada Advance the Cultural Sustainability of Aboriginal Women?

By Andrea Chisholm and Louise Gonsalvez.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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In this paper, two Euro-Canadian women scholars critically examine longstanding colonial policy concerns undermining the well-being and cultural sustainability of Aboriginal women and their families in Canada, especially First Nations women on reserve affected by Canada’s oppressive, unilaterally imposed Indian Act. Centralizing the perspectives of Aboriginal women academic and legal scholars, we focus our critique on colonial government policy and practice affecting women’s health, access to water and adequate housing, status and identity, and residential schooling and child welfare policy continuing to impact the lives of Aboriginal women and their children living on reserve. Our analysis observes how Indian Act policy approaches affecting various facets of Aboriginal women’s cultural sustainability are interconnected, systemic and institutionalized. The paper calls on Canada to facilitate a way forward that meaningfully honours the original treaty relationship principle of mutual sharing and respect that supports First Nations women’s needs, perspectives, autonomy, and visions in relation to their future sustainability. The paper also advocates a renewed federal commitment to the principles of cultural protection, development, and non-interference, expressed in international human rights instruments relevant to Indigenous women, to which Canada is a party.

Keywords: Policy Ecology, Aboriginal Women and Children, Canada

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.73-86. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 268.104KB).

Andrea Chisholm

M.Ed, PhD candidate, Faculty of Education, Brock University, Fonthill, Ontario, Canada

Andrea Chisholm is a former lawyer and current doctoral student in the Faculty of Education at Brock University, Canada. Her research and work focuses on advancing equality and spirituality in policy, law and education, using critical anti-colonial approaches.

Louise Gonsalvez

BPE, B.Ed, M.Ed, PhD student, University of Windsor, Fernie, Canada

I am a high school teacher, activist and PhD student. I was on the writing team for the BC Ministry of Education Social Justice 12 course and I was one of the first teachers to pilot this very popular course. I have been on the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation Committee for Action on Social Justice for five years and have created workshops, policy and articles for them. For my masters degree I examined water policy in South Africa.